Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service approved the America Border Foundation’s application to be recognized as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization which has the goal of crowd-sourcing money toward building a border wall on the southern border.
The founder and Managing Director of the organization, Quentin Kramer of Maryland, said he bought the domain for the organization’s website, fundthewall.com, in 2015 after having conversations about the possibility of crowd-sourcing the funding for the wall.
“When Americans elected President Trump, that came with a promise: we’re going to build a wall,” the website says. “The Democrats and the establishment Republicans in Congress would love to see this promise go unfulfilled. We are here to provide needed leverage and as necessary a funding source for the Department of Homeland Security so they can achieve operational security on our southern border including construction of the border wall.”
The website also claims: “[t]he flood of illegal immigrants we’ve endured over the past decade has taxed our resources to the breaking point and has negatively impacted the safety of our citizens not just on border states but far into the interior where gang activity and the spread of illegal drugs has continued to increase.”
Kramer said he launched the website in November 2017 and started to raise money. He also said that he has a dozen and a half to two dozen volunteers and members involved in the organization. So far, the organization has raised $1,875, but Kramer claimed he expects to raise much more due to the new tax-exempt status. “We are getting about 100 dollars a day right now,” he claims.
The goal currently set on the website is for $1.5 billion. In January, President Trump claimed on Twitter that the wall would cost $20 billion. Kramer acknowledges that his goal is below that amount, but said he will have “several rounds of funding once DHS approves” and claims he will also have “monthly goals.”
In December 2017, Kramer said he approached the Department of Homeland Security to determine if they would accept contributions for the wall from the organization. But this July, they sent a letter notifying him that they would not accept the donations. The letter stated, “[W]hile we appreciate the support of the America Border Foundation towards our efforts in securing our nation’s borders, we unfortunately do not have the resources to process external donations at this time.”
The letter has not deterred Kramer. “In our perspective, that’s not no,” he said. “They just don’t have people to cash the checks.” He believes that DHS could find the resources with enough pressure. “We think that President Trump can direct DHS to use the resources to receive the donations,” he said.
In a letter of his own, he responded to DHS by citing a 2008 directive on the DHS website regarding “Gifts to the Department of Homeland Security” which says, “Authorized agency officials may use statutory authority to accept and utilize gifts to DHS that aid or facilitate DHS’s work.” The directive also claims that “gifts offered subject to conditions may be accepted if, in the judgment of the concerned acceptance authority, the conditions do not unduly restrict or interfere with the work of DHS and do not attach conditions inconsistent with applicable laws or regulations. Such conditions must be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel prior to acceptance.”
“They have a mandate to build a wall,” Kramer claimed. “So it’s in their mission and they should be able to agree.”
If Congress does allocate enough money for the wall, Kramer hopes his organization can pick up the slack to ensure that “it does not take 10 years to secure our border.” If Congress does allocate enough money, he hopes his organization can monitor the construction and “make sure that DHS is accomplishing its mission.”
Kramer said that he has also sent letters to the Trump Administration but has not heard back.
“It’s pretty rational, to be honest,” Kramer says. “Everyone wants a secure country — a secure country is not a far right-wing idea.”